US intelligence agencies have accused Russia of hacking into Democratic Party emails, helping to seal President Trump's election victory, but Vladimir Putin insisted Thursday that the Russian state has never engaged in hacking—and scoffed at allegations that hackers could influence the outcome of US elections. Speaking at a meeting with senior editors of leading international news agencies, Putin also alleged that some evidence pointing at Russian hackers' participation in attacks—he didn't specify which—could have been rigged in an attempt to smear Russia, reports the AP. "I can imagine that some do it deliberately, staging a chain of attacks in such a way as to cast Russia as the origin of such an attack," Putin said. "Modern technologies allow that to be done quite easily."
Asked if Russian hackers could try to shape the outcome of German parliamentary elections later this year, Putin said: "We never engaged in that on a state level, and have no intention of doing so." Putin argued that hackers, wherever they come from, can't sway election outcomes because the public mood cannot be manipulated that easily. "I'm deeply convinced that ... no hackers can influence election campaigns in any country of Europe, Asia, or America," he said. Putin added that while the Russian state has never been involved in hacking, Russia-West tensions could have prompted some individuals to launch cyberattacks. "If they have patriotic leanings, they may try to add their contribution to the fight against those who speak badly about Russia," he said. "Theoretically it's possible."